Sunday, November 28, 2010

KLOVE's Mike Novak: Compensation Tops $500,000

About a month ago the omnipresent Christian radio station KLOVE wrapped up its fundraising drive. You probably heard it, too. Pleas went out for more funding and you had kids giving their allowances, businesses committing, single moms pledging, families pledging, the works. God bless 'em if that's how the Lord is leading them to spend their money. The radio in my Volvo doesn't work anymore, one of the effects I suspect of a vehicle with 323,000+ miles on it, so I don't listen to KLOVE as much as I have in the past. I do spend more time in the Volvo praying, which is a good thing. KLOVE is about our only option out here in Gloucester, Va., as far as Christian radio, so we listen to it in the van. I'm really not sure where I stand on KLOVE ... I appreciate the effort to bring Christian music to the masses on a platform that literally stretches across the country. But I hear the same songs over and over again and many times I'm looking for something fresher and seem to hear songs I heard 10 years ago again and again. As I said to Ethan a week or so ago while we were riding in the van, "Is no one making any decent Christian music anymore?" That being said, I decided to take a peek at KLOVE's books as I did about a year and a half ago on this blog. Let's just say being one of the bigwigs at KLOVE pays off handsomely.

As I mentioned, KLOVE stretches across the country and has radio stations and transmitters all over the place, so it's a big business from that standpoint with lots of employees. The parent organization of KLOVE, Educational Media Foundation, reported revenues last year of $88.2 million, according to forms filed with the IRS. Total payroll, including benefits and taxes, topped $25 million and net revenue was $16.7 million, according to the forms filed with the IRS.

I'm sure you've all heard the voice of KLOVE President Mike Novak, especially at pledge time, and last year (2009) his total compensation was $506,198, according to documents filed with the IRS. Think about that for a minute ... wow, that's a ton of money. It takes 12,655 people pledging $40 a month just to cover his compensation. Is he operating Christian radio stations or working on Wall Street? He received $343,792 in base compensation (that's $28,649 per month) and "bonus & incentive" compensation of $110,000 (A lot of us got bonuses on par with that last year, right?), other reportable compensation of $9,628, retirement & deferred compensation of $22,549 and "nontaxable benefits" of $20,229. The big question to me is what is acceptable for a guy of Novak's position and stature? Is $506,198 acceptable, considering there's no disclaimer come pledge time that 12,655 of you monthly pledgers are just paying for Mike? As the guy who runs what essentially is a national organization, is he deserving of that paycheck?

Here's a couple of head-scratchers from the IRS forms. Dick Jenkins, the former president who is no longer with KLOVE, received $300,000 in "other reportable" compensation and another $13,196 in nontaxable benefits. That's only 7,830 $40-per-month pledgers to pay for a guy no listed as the "former president." Speaking of guys no longer with the organization ... former radio personality and programming director Jon Rivers left KLOVE in early 2009 and earned $261,543 in "other reportable" compensation and $3,659 in retirement and other deferred compensation last year, for a total of $265,202. Rivers subsequently attributed his departure to an addiction to prescription painkillers and maybe there was a contract or something that KLOVE couldn't get out of. Who knows. All told, KLOVE listed 14 people earning a minimum of $114,000 or more last year on its IRS forms. Not bad for Christian non-profit work.

Don't be fooled. "Christian ministry" often seems to be simply big business operating as a "non-profit." Sure there's plenty of good hearts out there at KLOVE with a desire to serve Jesus Christ and play Christian music and the like. But when and where does "Christian ministry" blur the line between personal gain? I think whether you are a pastor at a church, a CEO of a Christian "non-profit" organization, a missionary, or in whatever capacity you believe the Lord is calling you and leading you and directing you, when it comes to money the question always boils down to whether or not the Lord gives you a peace about your paycheck. Is there any check at all on your heart? When you read the Bible every morning (hopefully you're reading the Bible ...) are you paying attention to what is being said about money? How do you justify these paychecks? The Apostle Paul had something to say about this: "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (1 Tim. 6:10 NKJV) Jesus, the ultimate authority, weighed in on this: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV)

4 comments:

  1. WOW, thx for this info, I called Klove today @ getting sick n tired of their marketing ploys laced with guilt trips and they did not deny (I have a marketing background) the push pull marketing, east coast hard hitter and nearly in tears get their hearts. this is a well planned marketing strategy that employs every marketing facet outside of sex. ie repetition - hit em every few minutes. walk them to the phone stepxstep, much harder hitting marketing than 15 yrs ago when I donated $40 a month for a year and I only made $11p/hr to support a family of 4. 2 yrs ago when I called the Klove line to talk to a Pastor about my daughters issues, no return call. They assured me on the phone today, when I brought all this up, that the pastors return each n every call - NOT! I told her I don't trust their word based on that... and want to know their salaries, as I would not contribute donations to folks making more than me - she agreed. most of what she said was cold hearted canned responses not sincere. I also suggested they use actual Christian Business for commercials for a WIN-WIN-WIN so Christian Businesses can advertise honestly, and consumers and listeners know where to find Christian Businesses. I know why they don't - they would not make as much profit as they do with donations. This is criminal, corruption, greed and should be exposed. I make $42,500 a year, which I'm grateful for, and I'm not about to fund 14 folks making $114K and Mr. Novak. I'm appalled! U called it on Matthew 6:19-21!

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  2. I agree. I do not see where a person making half a million per year thinks its acceptable to ask the common hardworking soul for more. I am NOT judging; it just concerns me.

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  3. No problems with Mike making what he makes. I'm sure none of the folks commenting could run KLOVE and probably have not checked the compensation for the American Cancer Society $800k +, Girl Scouts $800k +, United Way $1 mil, UNCF $700k +, Boys Scouts $900k +, City of Hope $1.4 mil + and many more. Maybe Jessica, Genie and Matt can run one of these organizations? Or better yet I guess you'd be happier if these organizations didn't exist. That would be a shame as they help millions and millions of people each year. Oh yeah don't forget about your local lottery that takes in hundreds of millions each year of "common" folk money. All I know is that these folks are doing "SOMETHING" (more than most) and making a difference in millions of lives. Good organizations doing great things.

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  4. As a long time listener and contributor to Air1, I was greatly disappointed to hear Mr. Novak's salary of $533k for 2013. Donations being the single reported source of income, time and time again during on air pledge drives... on air staff saying "step out in faith" reaching those in difficult economic times (food stamps, welfare etc) but reaching out in faith as encouraged. I might feel differently if they generated income from advertisers but fund are coming directly from listeners like myself, to help other listeners in need.

    I email Air1 my concerns… with no response, escalated my efforts to their Facebook page and was directed to email president@air1.com for which I’ve not seen any response explaining his salary after 3 attempts over 2 months.

    Candidly, I feel betrayed by Mr. Novak and the any board members that would justify his salary while calling themselves a “ministry.”

    We’ve discontinued our monthly contribution and no longer listen to Air1 or Klove.

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